The cultural historians Janet Woollacott and Tony Bennett consider that Fleming's preface note—in which he informs readers that "a great deal of the background to this story is accurate"—indicates that in this novel "cold war tensions are most massively present, saturating the narrative from beginning to end". As in Casino Royale , the concept of the loss of British power and influence during the post-Second World War and Cold War period was also present in the novel. The journalist William Cook observes that, with the British Empire in decline "Bond pandered to Britain's inflated and increasingly insecure self-image, flattering us with the fantasy that Britannia could still punch above her weight." Woollacott and Bennett agree, and maintain that "Bond embodied the imaginary possibility that England might once again be placed at the centre of world affairs during a period when its world power status was visibly and rapidly declining." In From Russia, with Love , this acknowledgement of decline manifested itself in Bond's conversations with Darko Kerim when he admits that in England "we don't show teeth any more—only gums."
Woollacott and Bennett argue that in selecting Bond as the target for the Russians, he is "deemed the most consummate embodiment of the myth of England". The literary critic Meir Sternberg sees the theme of Saint George and the Dragon running through several of the Bond stories, including From Russia, with Love . He sees Bond as Saint George—the patron saint of England—in the story, and notes that the opening chapter begins with an examination of a dragonfly as it flies over the supine body of Grant.